Hike Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Southbound hike
Aberfeldy Bridge over the River Tay, and Menzies Castle just northwest of Aberfeldy
DN44 Vista Aberfledy Bridge
DN44 Over Aberfeldy Bridge
DN44 Menzies Castle
Days N40 - N44                                                                   Central Scotland
Day N44 - Aberfeldy to Tummel Bridge
Day N43                                       Hernia!                                                Day N45
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    English West Country

    English Midlands
    North of England
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    Scottish Highlands

Southbound Home
Friday, May 4, 2007

Time of departure: 8.30 am
Time of arrival: 3.15 pm
Place departed: Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross
Place arrived: Tummel Bridge, Perth and Kinross

Miles: 14.5
Cum miles: 714.8
Percent complete: 77.1

Bed sign Bermuda Cottage, Tummel Bridge  ****
Cost for bed and breakfast: 25 ($50)
  Overview of both hikes


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DN44 DNM at Tummel Bridge
DN44 Cattle scratching
DN44 Two cattle
DN44 Two horses
The author at Tummel Bridge, and cattle and horses near Coshieville. Lest you're confused, the author is at top
The Aberfeldy B&B just did everything right. My room was in a nice house, totally spotless, had every amenity, and the hosts were really welcoming. Breakfast was excellent too.

I saw grouse today, as well as the ubiquitous flocks of sheep with lambs. At Coshieville, I ran into some friendly horses and cattle. A bull had a great time scratching his head on a farm gate. I think he wanted me to scratch it for him, but I didn’t.

Today's route from Aberfeldy to Tummel Bridge seemed to mirror the one from Sma’ Glen to Aberfeldy. In each case, the route ran broadly south-to-north from a low elevation on a river or lake to another on a river or lake. Between the two, it ran first up a valley and then over a pass with a lake on top - this one Loch Kinardochy - before a steep descent to the destination.

Even the hills down into Aberfeldy and Tummel Bridge were similar, involving a seven percent downslope from the southeast, with bends. In both cases there's an old bridge over the river when you get there.

Tummel Bridge is, however, barely a village and only that due to a holiday caravan (trailer) park. After I checked in with Margaret and Norman Ellis, I took myself to the trailer park restaurant for a beer and dinner, given that there was no alternative.  It was a garish place with loud music and a games arcade. The families seemed to be having a good time. I had a baked potato and salad, washed down with a pint of draft Grolsch.

Tomorrow would have another accommodation challenge at its end. I would hit the A9 in a desolate spot after a hard climb - and there was no evident accommodation that either the locals or I could identify either before the A9 or for miles along it.  Mrs. Ellis kindly agreed to do breakfast at 6.30 am so that I'd arrive there early enough hopefully to work something out. Mr. Ellis even offered to drive me halfway to the A9 to give me even more time, but I declined the kind offer.

There was a vintage car rally on my route today, which added interest. But what also added interest was something more personal.

In these last two weeks of the hike, and possibly because of weight loss, I had noticed a lump on my lower left abdomen. While it didn’t really hurt, it was quite prominent and it didn’t go away.  After a week, I knew it should be looked at as soon as I returned home, if not before. Of these alternatives, I chose to see a doctor right after I got home.

With my wife busy teaching her kindergarten class, an activity that can run the most capable people ragged, I decided to make the appointment myself. It would take an expensive international call by cellphone. Fortunately, the signal here in the boonies was clear enough.

How long could it possibly take to make an appointment?  Well, things had changed at my Tampa doctor. Appointments were now made only by a “scheduler”, who was so busy filing her nails that she just took messages on her machine and called back later.  But, as I learned later, the calls back didn't arrive quickly because she calls back just once a day if she wishes and not-at-all when she wishes, which is quite often. And that’s if it is a local call back, which this wasn’t, and her education wouldn’t stretch to figuring out how to make an international call even if she wanted to, which she didn’t, and the doctor’s phone system probably barred it anyway - but if it didn’t, she would call without regard for the time change and wake me.

So I called back myself instead, and eventually reached the "Scheduler", now invested in an upper case S, because she behaved like the great doorkeeper to allowing me the privilege of seeing my doctor. Once through to her, she had to have my name, address, phone number, social security number, and insurance details before making an appointment. “Just in case they've changed since your last appointment.” From previous experience, just taking the insurance details is done in Florida with brooding, distrustful disdain - as in “Is that Blue Cross Blue Shield from another state?”  (Answer: "Yes, Ma'am, we have 50 states in America.")

"But," I said, "if you will just tell me first when the appointment might be, I can tell you whether that's OK. Could save us a lot of time here."

"No, that's not the protocol," she replied, glorying in the term "protocol", which she pronounced "proticole". After going around with this discussion several times, she relented and put me on hold, during which time the phone got answered by another receptionist, went dead, and then I called back and mercifully reached her. "July 25," she said is my earliest, as if she owned the time slots. "Sorry," I said, "that's too far out for me. I'll find another doctor."

And, I might have added, "You can stuff your proticole up your magic flute".

Later, bothering Jennifer after all, I got an appointment with another doctor for two days after my return. Getting ahead of myself now, the new doctor immediately diagnosed the lump as a hernia, which sounded better than some other possibilities I’d been imagining. It’s unclear whether the hernia arose from exercise,  or whether I tore the abdominal wall when I fell on my hiking pole when I overbalanced when rising from a grass slope with my pack on. Regardless, it needed operating on, because the intestines protruding through the abdominal wall could get pinched and die, causing a rapid, dangerous (in fact, gangrenous) infection.

When I saw the surgeon on my return, he was a man of few words. After the operation, all he said was “Very large”.

During the hike, I didn’t know what the lump was, and it didn’t hurt enough to impede my progress. So I duly finished the hike, worrying less than I probably should have.

As with my knees and calves, heart and kidneys, shoulders and back, feet with blisters, and once-broken ankle, my hernia was kind to me.  Indeed, I was fortunate.
Day N43                           2007 and 2008 Daryl May                      Day N45